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February 22, 1883|
Stryków, Congress Poland
|Died||October 12, 1925
|Known for||Strongman feats|
Siegmund Breitbart (22 February 1883 – 12 October 1925), also known popularly as Zishe or Sische Breitbart (Yiddish: זישע ברייטבאַרט), was a Polish-born circus performer, vaudeville strongman and Jewish folklore hero. He was known as the "Strongest Man in the World" and Eisenkönig ("Ironking") during the 1920s.
Breitbart performed extensively in Europe and America touring with the Circus Busch using a strength act themed to fit his former background as a blacksmith. He bent iron bars around his arm in floral patterns, bit through iron chains or tore them apart, and even broke horseshoes in half. As a showman, Breitbart feats also included holding back two whipped horses, pulling a wagon-load of people with his teeth and supporting enormous weights, such as automobiles loaded with up to ten passengers, while lying on his back. Stones would be broken by sledge-hammers on his chest. He also lifted a baby elephant, and while holding on to the elephant, he climbed a ladder and held a locomotive wheel by rope in his teeth while three men were suspended from the wheel.
Breitbart took one of the most popular feats among the strongmen of the era and made it part of his act. During The Tomb of Hercules, a bridge was built across his chest and heavy beasts such as a bull, or an elephant, were paraded over the boards. But Breitbart took it a step further, he would support a motordrome on his chest while two men chased each other on motorcycles inside.
Seizing on the mail-order muscle-development-course craze of the time, Breitbart authored a book titled Muscular Power and the Breitbart mail-order course. The course was based around body-weight exercises and a special "Breitbart Apparatus", a progressive resistance exerciser made to simulate steel bending movements.
Breitbart died eight weeks after he accidentally hurt himself during a strongman demonstration in Germany. He was stabbed in the knee by a spike he drove through five 1-inch-thick (25 mm) oak boards using only his bare hands. The wound became infected, which led to fatal blood poisoning. Although he endured ten operations in which both legs were amputated, the infection was too severe. Breitbart died in October 1925. He was buried in the Adass-Jisroel cemetery in Berlin.
He was also the inspiration for the children's book Zishe the Strongman by Robert Rubenstein, from Kar-Ben Publishing.
- Siegmund Breitbart on IMDb
- Zishe Breitbart at Find a Grave
- American Strength Legends: Siegmund "Zisha" Breitbart
- Siegmund Breitbart's Muscle Builder Apparatus
- Siegmund "Zishe" Breitbart Biography at J-Grit: The Internet Index of Tough Jews
- "Discussion in Forward". Archived from the original on 2003-01-07.
- Webpage dedicated to Zishe Breitbart
- Book website for Zishe the Strongman
- This date of year on her grave; also an 1883 year is being given
- Gordon, Mel (Summer 2011). "Step Right Up & Meet the World’s Mightiest Human— A Jewish Strongman from Poland Who Some Say Inspired the Creation of Superman!!!". Reform Judaism Magazine. Retrieved 30 Sep 2013.